Monday, August 23, 2010

This Goblet is half-full!

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Director: Mike Newell
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes
Released: 11/18/05
Viewed in theaters: 11/23/05

Oscar nominations:
Best Achievement in Art Direction (lost to Memoirs of a Geisha)

I don't know if by the time the fourth film came out, I just learned to accept the Harry Potter movies (I had plenty to bitch about with the first three!) or if this one was better than the previous three. I think it's a bit of both. Overall, I thought Mike Newell did a great job with Goblet of Fire considering they managed to squeeze a 700+ page book into a two and a half hour movie. Of course, there were some b-plots from the novel written out like the whole SPEW crusade - not that I minded since I can't stand Dobby. I find GoF to be the most movie-friendly of the book. With the three tasks for the Tri-Wizard Tournament involving dragons and mermaids and the Yule Ball, there's plenty of action to translate to the screen.

I was much happier with the characterization of Ron and Hermione this time. No Ron mugging at the camera! No Ron being afraid of EVERYTHING! The only time he whimpers is when Professor Moody, the latest DADA teacher, places that spider on his head, but that's okay, since, you know, he's supposed to be afraid of spiders. I liked that we got to see another side of Ron with his jealousy and anger at Harry and his crush on Fleur was funny, especially when she kissed him on the cheek after asking him if he helped save her sister too, and he said, "Yes, yes, I helped!"

They toned down Hermione from the last movie and this time she wasn't front and center and stealing Harry's spotlight and she was actually shown (gasp!) reading a book.

I saw the movie with my mom when I saw it in the theaters and I had to give her a little review of everything HP since her only experience with the franchise had been seeing the first movie. It was a little sad...she didn't even know who Voldemort was when I mentioned him. After we watched it, she said, "I didn't know it was going to be so scary! That dragon, that snake, those skeletons in the graveyard!" Now, personally, I wasn't scared by the movie, but it definitely takes a darker turn than the previous films. However, there are some funny moments to balance out the darkness, such as any scenes with Fred and George or Ron dancing with Professor McGonagall when she's teaching the students how to dance. I also always crack up when Harry tells Ron, "I don't know what happened last night and I don't know why" even though it's not supposed to be funny, but it made it sound like they had some funny business going on.

And, finally, a  Harry Potter  movie where the ending doesn't want want to make me gag or roll my eyes!

To date, this is my favorite Potter movie of the six that have been released.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The (super)Natural

Field of Dreams
Director: Phil Alden Robinson
Cast: Kevin Costner, Ray Liotta, James Earl Jones, Amy Madigan
Released: 4/21/89

Oscar nominations:
Best Picture (lost to Driving Miss Daisy)
Best Original Score - James Horner (lost to Alen Menken for The Little Mermaid)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Phil Alden Robinson (lost to Alfred Uhry for Driving Miss Daisy)

Field of Dreams is a movie I watched many times when I was younger because it was a favorite of my family's and we had it on video. I'm sure I saw it on the big screen, but if I did, I don't remember. While I still remember what the movie is about, it's been many, many years since I last saw it, so I decided to rent the DVD. (I don't own a VCR so I couldn't drag the old VHS out - I doubt it would have played anyway!) In many ways it was like seeing it for the first time again. The only parts I really remembered were Kevin Costner hearing that disembodied voice declaring, "If you build it, he will come" and Shoeless Joe Jackson and the other baseball players of the past descending from the cornfield. I remembered James Earl Jones being in the movie, but I couldn't recall any of his scenes and I forgot entirely about the PTA meeting. 

Of course you have to suspend your belief when watching this movie because a guy building a baseball field in the middle of his corn field just because a voice told him to is just plain ludicrous! There are many scenes that make me go "Wha-?", but perhaps since this is such a beloved movie, I'm able to just go with it.

An interesting side note about the movie's title: As you may already know, Field of Dreams is an adaptation of W. P. Kinsella's novel, Shoeless Joe Jackson (which I read when I was a freshman in high school, but don't remember anything about the book), but the studio didn't want the movie to be the same title because they thought that the audience would think it's about a homeless guy or that Costner is supposed to be the title character. Somebody suggested Field of Dreams, but the director didn't like it. He talked to the author to tell him that although the screening was well received, they had to give it a different title. Kinsella told him that he didn't come up with the book's title and said he wanted to call it Dream Field instead, so the director took that as a sign and thus that's how the film became Field of Dreams.

I've been to the actual location where the movie was filmed in Dyersville, Iowa (and I had to look that up on Wikipedia because I couldn't remember the name of the town) where I saw the baseball field. It was a lot smaller than it looked on the screen. There were people there playing baseball, but I was more interested in the cornfield! 

I'm not a big baseball fan, but I would recommend Field of Dreams to those who are and those who aren't.